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Justin Verlander scratched from start in World Series rematch vs. Nationals

Justin Verlander scratched from start in World Series rematch vs. Nationals

One of the highly anticipated spring training games of the year will be without one of the biggest stars of the sport. 

Justin Verlander has been scratched from his start for when the Houston Astros play the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

It was set to be a World Series rematch between the two clubs as Verlander was scheduled to pitch against Max Scherzer in the battle of the respective clubs' aces. Somehow the two former teammates never managed to pitch against one another during last season's world championship.

'Groin discomfort' is said to be the cause for Verlander missing his first on-field action of the spring. Instead, he will throw a simulated game, Dusty Baker told the Houston Chronicle's Chandler Rome

This is the second scheduled spring training game between the two teams. In the game that opened the Grapefruit League between Houston and Washington, none of the Astros' regulars participated. However, that did not stop fans from showing their disdain

The remaining line-ups for both squads will likely not be announced until Thursday morning. 

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Don't fret Terps fans, Maryland is still in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed

Don't fret Terps fans, Maryland is still in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed

Maryland missed a golden opportunity on Sunday to rise to the No. 1 seed conversation for the NCAA Tournament. But despite losing after being in a prime position, they still are the best team capable of earning the final top seed in March. 

Three of the then-projected No. 1 seeds by ESPN's Joe Lunardi lost on Saturday. Baylor lost to a fellow No. 1 seed Kansas, but Gonzaga and San Diego State both lost to teams outside of the AP Top 25. And in San Diego State's case, a team that isn't making the NCAA Tournament. 

It was a prime situation for Maryland to rise from the No. 2 line that they have been strapped to all season long. Alas, they fell on the road to Ohio State to pause the conversation for the time being - albeit in a loss that was not without some controversy

The loss, however, does not permanently remove the Terrapins from becoming a No. 1 seed. In fact, Maryland is in the driver's seat for the final No. 1 seed currently occupied by San Diego State. 

Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga are untouchable for Maryland unless one of those teams fall down the stretch. Kansas has 11 Quadrant 1 victories, Baylor is 10-1 in Q1 chances and 6-0 in those on the road and Gonzaga is 22-0 in non-Q1 chances. No one is passing one of those three based on that alone.

The final spot is open. SDSU, Maryland, Duke, Dayton and Florida State are the last remaining teams in consideration for the final No. 1 seed. A crowded field to say the least.

None of them have what Maryland has though: four Q1 opportunities left on their regular-season schedule. 

SDSU has none, Duke and Dayton have one, while Florida State has two after beating Louisville on Monday evening.

IF the committee regards Quadrant 1 wins as much as the NET rankings claim, then logic dictates that Maryland has the best opportunity to take that spot. Quadrant 1 games are defined as a home game against an opponent ranked 1-30 in the NET, a neutral site opponent from 1-50 or a road opponent from 1-75.

Before losing to Ohio State, Lunardi said that Maryland "would [ascend] to the No. 1 seed" with a win over the Buckeyes. That would slide the Aztecs to the No. 2 seed line. And losing to Ohio State is just another Q1 loss. Of all the losses from the top teams last week, including Duke's loss to NC State, Maryland's was the second-best in the eyes of metrics. They really shouldn't be hurt from that loss whatsoever. 

On top of those four regular-season games, the Terrapins would likely get at least two more Q1 chances in the Big Ten Tournament in the semifinals and the championship game, assuming they kept winning. But all of this hinges on continuing to win down the stretch. 

Maryland would have a better resume than any team that wins the ACC (Duke, Florida State or Louisville) and definitely better wins than either Dayton or San Diego State. 

The opportunity for a No. 1 seed is still there, now they can just focus on themselves. 

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If Georgetown wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they must beat Providence

If Georgetown wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they must beat Providence

An improbable upset over No. 19 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse suddenly vaulted the Georgetown Hoyas into the NCAA Tournament conversation over the weekend. 

They pulled out the victory with only seven scholarship players, missing their top two scorers on the season. But no matter how they accomplished the feat, they win drew attention across the country. Any team in the Big East conference that just pulled out a road victory against the ranked Butler Bulldogs has to have postseason aspirations, right? 

There was a surprising revelation when evaluating the Hoyas: The don't have that bad of a tournament resume. 

Yes, at 15-10 (5-7 Big East) the Hoyas can be considered a bubble team. They're ranked 46th in the NET, 47th in KenPom, 60th in BPI and are the last team in Joe Lunardi's bracketology projection as of this writing. Their surprising win over Butler, along with an atrocious bubble this season, has helped them get there.

Now is when the season gets important for the Hoyas, though. One loss to a subpar team could derail that. On Wednesday they host Providence for their second matchup of the season. If they lose, the Hoyas can kiss an at-large bid goodbye. 

Georgetown's resume is contingent on them avoiding bad losses. Their worst loss on the season was to a solid UNC Greensboro team. Every other one is qualified as a Quadrant 1 loss according to the NET. They are 10-1 in non-Q1 situations. 

Bad losses are abound in college basketball this season, even from the top teams. Those losses have Virginia, VCU and Alabama stuck on the bubble. Somehow, the scrappy Hoyas have kept them off their resume. 

Losing to Providence would be a bad loss for the Hoyas. It would be their worst loss to date, according to the NET. Providence (NET: 58) is, in fact, one of those teams with a handful of poor losses (9-4 vs. sub-Q1 opponents). And while Providence is also in consideration for the NCAA Tournament, it would crush the Hoyas' outlook since they don't have the Q1 wins to offset a loss like that. This contest being at home for the Hoyas makes it even more imperative that they come out on top.

Beating the Friars at home will not likely be enough for the Hoyas to make the tournament. They'll have to also beat Xavier, DePaul and likely find some magic in one of their other three games. 

The Hoyas can get there, but their quest for the NCAA Tournament starts by beating Providence. 

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